Wise men say only fools rush in. /"Can’t Help Falling In Love” music and lyrics by Haley Reinhart
When confronting a global pandemic, it seems like folks would have better things to worry about than dreaming up schemes to monetize the panic part of the pandemic. Yet predictably within days of Corona Virus and Covid-19 becoming household words, the US Trademark Office was flooded with applications for phrases such as CLASS OF COVID-19 for sweatshirts, COVID IMMUNE for wristbands, COVID-19 SURVIVOR for t-shirts, and COVID KIDS for children’s clothing.
Like most of their COVID brethren, these applications were filed based on the applicant’s professed “bona fide intent to use” the mark in commerce. That’s a fancy legal term that means that the application must be more than a pipe dream, much more in fact. Trademark law demands that aspiring trademark owners be able to back up their aspirations with real commercial evidence, like having a prototype, investing in equipment, or having a strategic plan.
And before the Trademark Office will issue a certificate of registration with the impressive ribbon and official seal, the applicant must submit evidence that it has actually selling good or offering services under its trademark. These can’t be mere token sales to friends and family; they but must be genuine commercial transactions. Otherwise, if the applicant filed first and tried to develop a product or business later or relied on trumped up sales, the resulting registration can be challenged as having been void from the start.
So, many of these Covid trademark hopefuls are likely due for a rude awakening. Not only will the market for their novelty products run its course along with the novel virus, but the money they spent on these trademark applications likely would have been better spent on other things, like toilet paper and hand sanitizer.